¿Hasta cuaaaando ya?: A lesson in Chilean slang

When I arrived in Chile three months ago, people’s stories were a lot wilder than they are now. One day at lunch, for example, I learned there’s a two-week period every August where Venezuelans take to the street and eat banana Jello, and I considered making a trip.

As I’ve grown more accustomed to the language, the stories have calmed down a bit and have started to make more sense. But to understand them completely, it helps to recognize the slang that peppers most every Chilean sentence.

Here’s a quick guide to the Chilean slang I’ve picked up on so far:
Al tiro — Immediately
Bacán — Cool!
¿Cachai? — Get it?
Carrete — Party
Fome — Boring
Guagua — Baby
Guata — Belly
Huevón(a) — Buddy, Dude, Man, Jerk or Asshole, depending on the context.
Often added to the end of a sentence to indicate familiarity.
La onda — Attitude, mood, character of person.
As in “Ella es buena onda” or “She’s got a good vibe.”
La pega — Work, Job
Pololo(a) — Boyfriend/Girlfriend
Po — Well
Short for “pues.” Added onto the end of many sentences and phrases.
As in “Sí po” or “No po.”
Ponte las pilas
— Go for it! Try harder!
Literally “Put your batteries in.”
La raja — Excellent, Cool, The shit
El tuto — Sleepiness (in a cute sense)
As in “Tengo tuto” or “I’m sleepy,” and “Voy a hacer tuto” or “I’m going to take a nap.”
Wea — That shit
As in “Esa wea no funciona” or “That shit doesn’t work,” and “Esa wea está mala” or “That shit is bad.”

A separate slang culture, mainly driven by the baqueanos (Chilean cowboys), has developed within the park. Here a few phrases you need to get around here:
Meh — A sound used to express surprise or disbelief
Vamos, VAAAAH-mos — Let’s go, leeeeet’s go.
Shouted as loud as possible, often by a baqueano, a guide or me, when prodded
¿Hasta cuaaaando, yaaaa? — When’s it gonna stop?
Literally, “Until when, already?”
Uttered with a nasally voice in fake annoyance

There you have it. Consider yourself Chilean.

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One Response to “¿Hasta cuaaaando ya?: A lesson in Chilean slang”

  1. MarK Says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    The Chileans have a distinctive way of addressing “you” (singular).

    All you need to do is look at the conjugation of “vosotros” used in Spain.
    1. For -ÁIS (or -AIS) you just drop the final -S.
    2. -ÉIS and -ÍS are merged to -ÍS with the final -S aspirated so that it sounds more like -ÍH.

    Examples:

    Spain:
    [tú]
    andas, andabas, anduvieras, andarías, comías, comieras, comerías, venías, vinieras, vendrías
    [vosotros]
    andáis, andabais, anduvierais, andaríais, comíais, comierais, comeríais, veníais, vinierais, vendríais
    CHILE:
    [tú/vos/voh]
    andái, andabai, anduvierai, andaríai, comíai, comierai, comeríai, veníai, vinierai, vendríai

    Spain:
    [tú]
    que comas, que vengas, No comas!, No vengas!
    [vosotros]
    que comáis, que vengáis, No comáis!, No vengáis!
    CHILE:
    [tú/vos/voh]
    que comái, que vengái, No comái!, No vengái!

    Spain:
    [tú]
    comes, vienes
    [vosotros]
    coméis, venís
    CHILE:
    [tú/vos/voh]
    comís, venís

    Spain:
    [tú]
    que andes, No andes!
    [vosotros]
    que andéis, No andéis!
    CHILE:
    [tú/vos/voh]
    que andís, No andís!

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